In recent times, people have been bashing steady-state cardio and there has been a movement towards only interval training. So many so-called “experts” start to say that longer cardio is detrimental and sessions should be no longer than 20 minutes. Who chose this time limit — nobody knows! There’s no denying that interval training and HIIT is beneficial in so many ways, but sometimes you can also benefit from doing steady-state cardio. So, what is steady-state cardio exactly? In steady-state cardio, you maintain a fixed pace, or a fixed effort level – it’s a steady pace, a level of exertion that’s for the most part, unchanging, uniform. With that being said, let’s take a look at a few reasons why you would want to try this.
6 Reasons to Do Steady State Cardio
A Great Alternative to HIIT
Slower, steady-state cardio is great for people who may not have the endurance, speed, experience, or mobility to do HIIT cardio. It’s also great for competitive bodybuilders whose primary concern is building as much muscle as possible. Many competitive bodybuilders prefer walking on a treadmill for their cardiovascular training to avoid any possible muscle loss. Obese, pregnant, or elderly trainees can also benefit from doing steady-state cardio.
Perfect for Beginners
If you’re new to the fitness world and aren’t sure which cardio style is best, spending 30-45 minutes on the stationary bike is probably a better starting point than all-out sprinting. Renowned fitness expert Lyle McDonald explains that steady-state cardio is “more appropriate for beginners” than HIIT.
It Burns a Lot of Calories
Steady-state cardio also boasts numerous other advantages. McDonald reasons that, depending on the intensity, “steady-state aerobics tend to burn more calories during the exercise bout than interval training.” He also says that, because of the high energy demands and longer recovery times of HIIT, “some research suggests that regular exercise helps people stick to their diet better.” In other words, if you’re unable or don’t want to do HIIT cardio, your fat-loss goals are not invalid!
Increase Cardiovascular Endurance
Everyone knows the main purpose of cardiovascular exercise is to increase the function and efficiency of your heart. It increases the heart’s efficiency to pump blood, therefore it will exert less effort to do the same amount of work leading to an increase in energy. It also increases lung capacity and increases oxygen delivery.
Variety is Key
Why should you be stuck doing the same thing? Running as fast as you can on a treadmill for 15 minutes or doing the same on a bike? You can do steady-state cardio on a variety of machines or even in a pool. Often, people find training on the treadmill or stepper to be tough on their joints. If you have knee, hip, or ankle problems, the elliptical, stationary bike, or swimming pool may be a better choice. My advice is to try them all and choose the ones that feel best for your body and efficiently support your fitness goals.
You Will Stick with It
Think about this: when you are beginning a training program your first thought is, will I stick with it the entire way? Well what if you absolutely hate sprinting or jump roping? Chances are you will eventually quit. Exercise should not be torture (all the time). Rather, exercise should be an activity that you enjoy and will want to do consistently. The more you look forward to the workout, the more likely you will want to improve. Yes there will be day that your workouts will be brutal and challenging but they are necessary for you to progress. But if longer cardio sessions at a lighter pace are what you need to workout, so be it!
Depending on your fitness level, age, experience, and goals, steady-state cardio can definitely serve a purpose in your workout regimen. It’s a great way to find an alternative to your current routine and a good way to increase your overall fitness.